Sky Sports News has been told that Chris Kirchner has been granted an extension of his exclusivity period to try to complete a purchase of Derby; former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley still keen on east Midlands club
Monday 9 May 2022 21:54, UK
Mike Ashley has made renewed contact with Derby County's administrators, and Sky Sports News has been told the former Newcastle owner remains very keen to buy the club.
It is thought there has been no reply from Quantuma, the administrators, to Ashley's approach, despite the period of exclusivity granted to prospective buyer Chris Kirchner expiring on Saturday night.
Kirchner has admitted on social media negotiations with outgoing Derby owner Mel Morris over a separate deal for the stadium have reached an impasse.
Derby City Council has been in negotiations with Morris over the possibility of public money being used to buy Pride Park - an option which Kirchner is thought to favour, so he can focus his resources on paying off Derby's substantial debt.
To that end, Sky Sports News has been told Derby would face another automatic 15-point deduction from the EFL, if at any stage Kirchner defaulted on his business plan to pay 35p in the pound over a three-year period to the club's non-football creditors.
With no imminent takeover looking likely, the threat of liquidation is increasing for Derby, though Sky Sports News has been told the administrators do have other short-term loan options available to cover the lack of ticket and other revenues, now the Championship season has finished. That would, however, increase Derby's overall debt still further, and potentially deter would-be buyers.
It is thought both Ashley and Kirchner have been frustrated by the delays in the takeover process. Had Derby been sold quickly after it first went into administration in September, the new owners could have made investments in the squad to try to avoid relegation, and also prevented the sale of some of Derby's best young players which were sanctioned to help keep the club afloat.
Sky Sports News has been told Morris wants £22m for the stadium to be bought outright, but is prepared to offer a lease agreement instead.
While £22m is a fraction of what it would cost to build a stadium like Pride Park, without a viable football team in the City, the true value of the stadium is hugely diminished.
By Rob Dorsett
Chris Kirchner has been granted an extension of his exclusivity period to try to complete a purchase of Derby.
He will have until midnight Saturday to complete a takeover, otherwise the club's administrators may be forced to re-open the bidding process.
Chris Kirchner said in a statement: "Our focus now is on a few small contractual elements with the league and the purchase of the stadium. We are working to privately purchase the stadium in order to expedite the closure of this deal.
"That's all I can share at this point out of respect for the process and parties involved, but my intention and expectation is to sign the agreement to purchase the club before the expiration of the exclusivity period."
Derbyshire police are investigating a number of threats - including death threats - made against Morris, as negotiations continue for the sale of the club.
Kirchner, has appealed on social media for an end to the threats.
In a statement to Sky Sports News, Derbyshire police have said:
"The force has received reports of suspicious threatening behaviour involving a car following a driver, a man in his 60s in Derbyshire. Officers are making enquiries into the incident."
Derby manager Rooney told Sky Sports after their relegation to League One was confirmed he wants to stick around and bring the "happy days back" to the club if the takeover goes through.
However, he emphasised the precarious situation Derby find themselves in leaves his position at the club in doubt.
"The takeover has to happen. If the takeover doesn't happen, then I really fear for where the club will end up," Rooney told Sky Sports.
"The club's future is in doubt, if [the takeover] doesn't happen my future is in doubt. So it has to.
"If it happens [the takeover], then I want to rebuild the club. You see what it means to the fans every week, this is a special club, a big club we are all proud to be at and I want to be the one to bring the happy days back."
He added: "It is a complex situation. I feel for the players more because we've picked up 52 points and we'd be safe now in normal circumstances.
"We've paid the price for what the previous owner has left behind. It is no one's fault other than the previous owner and we are paying the price. I'm sure it is a sad day for him as well because Mel Morris is a Derby fan, I am sure he'd be disappointed."